In the United States and many other countries, regular mammograms are encouraged for women aged 50 to 74 who are at greater risk of breast cancer. Older women should get these exams every other year according to the United States Preventive Services Task Force. Of course, mammograms arent the only answer, especially considering the expense and relative danger of creating images using doses of ionizing radiation. Physical breast examinations by a doctor and self-examinations at home also play an important role in the early detection of breast cancer.
Detecting breast cancer isnt the only use of mammography, though, and if you are thinking of going into this field its important to learn what you might be in for. You may also be involved with ductography, magnetic resonance imaging, positron emission mammography and ultrasound technology during your workday. Ductograms, for example, are sometimes used to evaluate bloody nipple discharge when a mammogram fails to produce a diagnosis. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is commonly used to more thoroughly analyze questionable findings or screen patients before surgery to look for lesions that were undetected before. Ultrasound is also used to further evaluate masses that have been found by mammograms.
There are clearly many rewards to specializing in mammography, especially when you have a hand in saving lives. It takes a specialized education and a special kind of person who is sensitive to the patients needs, but if youre up for the challenge you could have a bright career future ahead of you.